Trainers give contestants that extra push

  • A sense of humor keeps Brian Corrigan's mind off the pain of trainer Steve Amsden's workout.

      A sense of humor keeps Brian Corrigan's mind off the pain of trainer Steve Amsden's workout. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Brian Corrigan and Steve Amsden

      Brian Corrigan and Steve Amsden Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Tony Figueroa and Karen Maranto

      Tony Figueroa and Karen Maranto Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Wade Merrill and Michael White

      Wade Merrill and Michael White Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Katie Przyszlak and Michelle Amsden

      Katie Przyszlak and Michelle Amsden Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Joshua Steckler and Tom Hampson

      Joshua Steckler and Tom Hampson Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Trapp and Matt Kramer

      Mark Trapp and Matt Kramer Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

By Gerry Alger
Posted3/12/2012 6:00 AM

It's week four of the competition, and the Fittest Loser contestants are adjusting to a new health and fitness regimen. Meanwhile their trainers have been making some adjustments as well. Each contestant brings a unique personality and their own set of physical challenges. It's their trainer's role to determine how to bring out the best in each of them. This week the trainers tell us how it's going.

Steve Amsden/Brian Corrigan


There's a friendly rivalry going on between Push Fitness trainer Steve Amsden and Fittest Loser contestant Brian Corrigan. Three times a week Army meets Navy in the gym.

"Brian isn't necessarily used to following orders mindlessly due to the fact he was only in the Navy," jokes Amsden, an Army veteran. Though he's quick to point out his respect for every branch of the military, it's this back-and-forth banter between Amsden and Corrigan that makes this trainer-contestant matchup work.

"Brian's greatest strengths are his determination, his competitiveness and his discipline to do everything he is told to do. He will go above and beyond what is asked of him," Amsden says. But what gets these two through a workout, according to Amsden, is Corrigan's sense of humor.

"I pretty much make fun of what a wimp he is while we're training," Amsden says. "It makes us both laugh and gets his mind off the pain.

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"Brian complains a lot and tries to give his input on our training as if it were some sort of collaboration between the two of us," his trainer says. "He's always mentioning what hurts or what's burning. I tell him, 'heaven forbid you have to work out a little bit in order to get results.'

"Brian is getting a taste of what it's like to be a real soldier and follow orders without question," Amsden says.

Tony Figueroa/Karen Maranto

"Karen is a fighter," says her trainer, Tony Figueroa. "And she will fight her way to get healthy."

With three boys, Karen's focus was taking care of them. Now, Figueroa says, it's time for Karen to think of herself.

"I must say she loves to do laundry. Now she's starting to love her workout," he says. "She loves that I push her, but deep inside I know she's sensitive and has a warm heart."


With Karen's energy and motivation, Figueroa is confident he'll get her in shape.

Wade Merrill/Michael White

"Mike's greatest strength is also his greatest challenge," says trainer Wade Merrill. "The people around him are very encouraging and supportive of everything he does toward his weight-loss goal. He says it's helpful knowing that the people around him care enough to send him cards, text messages and offer pats on the back. However, not all who are encouraging him would agree to changing their own eating and exercise habits.

"This is true of so many people. Their family, friends and even co-workers support what they're doing, but they're not necessarily ready to make the same change in their lives. Consequently, it makes it very challenging to be around others who consider a foot-long sub to be 'healthy eating,'" Merrill says. "In Mike's case, he's not losing focus despite the pizza advertisements on his friend's coffee table or the many discussions of where they should grab a bite to eat.

"It's like a double-edged sword. On one side, he has the love and support of the people he cares about most, rallying behind him as he makes his way on a difficult and narrow path. On the other side is the temptation to fall back into unhealthy habits.

"Work harder, that's the goal we're focused on."

Michelle Amsden/Katie Przyszlak

"Katie's strength is her willpower. Not only in training hard but also in being disciplined with her food," trainer Michelle Amsden says. "She is willing to do everything I tell her to do without second guessing it. I love that about her! She trains hard and never once quits on me."

It's the scale and her mind, according to Amsden, that is proving to be Katie's greatest challenge.

"I think most women are frustrated when they see how quickly men lose weight, and it can be very discouraging," Amsden says. "Katie has been very frustrated seeing most of the guys in the competition dropping 5 pounds or more every week.

"I know this is a contest, but I keep reminding Katie that the most important thing is the lifestyle change ... learning how to live healthy and stay healthy.

"She has such determination to stay in it ... it's awesome!"

Joshua Steckler/Tom Hampson

"Tom's ability to listen is his greatest strength," Joshua Steckler says of his contestant, Tom Hampson. "He doesn't want to hear a lot of the things I'm telling him about exercise and nutrition, but he listens and follows through with it because he knows it's best for him."

And it's showing.

"His weight has been dropping from week to week, but more importantly," Steckler says, "he has more energy and feels so much better than before he started the program. He's listening to his body and using that as motivation, too.

"Tom is a hard worker, but his greatest challenge is having to work around the medications he's currently taking. Because of his weight and current state of health, Tom is taking a beta blocker, which regulates how high his heart rate can rise. Physically he's strong enough to perform most of the exercises I take him through, but we have to be careful how hard we push it because his heart rate will only rise to a certain percentage of its normal maximum output. If his cardiovascular system can't supply his cells with enough fuel and oxygen, then he can't complete the exercise -- not due to weakness or lack of effort, but from the heart rate being held down by the beta blocker. As he becomes healthier, our goal is to see if his doctor will reduce the dosage or take him off the medication altogether," Steckler says.

Mark Trapp/Matt Kramer

When it comes to the Fittest Loser Challenge, Matt Kramer's greatest strength, according to his trainer, Mark Trapp, is his attitude.

"Matt is so appreciative of this opportunity," Trapp says. "He's just loving the process. He's stress-free and enjoying being healthy. While others in the competition are stressing about the things they're missing out on, like food and time spent watching TV, Matt is thankful for getting his life back. That's only going to improve his chances of losing weight."

And, according to Trapp, another thing working in Matt's favor ... he's strong as a bull.

"I would say his biggest challenge up to this point has been his blood pressure, but it's getting better," Trapp says. "At the start of the program Matt was battling dizzy spells during our workouts. However, he went in for a checkup a week ago and his doctor couldn't believe the turn around he's had. His blood pressure is better than it's been in a long time.

"I'd love to see him get off his medication. That's one of my goals for Matt. The other? Winning the competition!"

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